BANGS — Through their first two games in 2018, the Bangs Dragons have proven they can put points on the board. Stopping the opposition has the been the problem, one the Dragons hope to rectify as they visit the Winters Blizzards Friday night.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Bangs (0-2) has opened the season with losses to Early, 60-20, and Hawley, 69-32, while Winters (2-0) owns victories over Goldthwaite, 34-14, and Eldorado, 22-0.
As for the first two games of his tenure in Bangs, head coach Kyle Maxfield said, “The second week was very similar to the first week. In both the Early and Hawley games we started off going back and forth with scores, then we gave up some really big plays, easy scores.
“When we work so hard to score and then they’re able to score on big plays you can tell the players get a little disheartened to a certain extent, but we’re learning lessons from it. It’s a daily process, kids are trusting the processes and gaining more and more confidence. To me, if you’re improving on a daily basis, some opponents are more challenging than others, but eventually that’s going to catch up to us and we’ll see some Ws on our side.”
The Dragons finished with 280 total yards against Hawley with a more balanced attack of 158 yards on the ground and 122 through the air.
“We were able to be a little more diverse on offense,” Maxfield said. “We’re trying not to be one dimensional, but at the same time not putting too much on their plate, especially with Justin (Wilson) being in his first season at quarterback. You can feel it in practice. We’re starting to click all the way around a little better. They’re learning how to practice the way we want them to and the terminology is sinking in a little more. We’re nowhere near where we want to be, but we’re making progress toward the first district game.”
Defensively, the Dragons gave up 627 yards — 362 rushing and 265 passing — in the Hawley game, and 50 points in the first half alone.
“The biggest thing that sticks out and I think (defensive coordinator) Coach (Sam) Gillispie would agree, is giving up plays on the back end,” Maxfield said. “That’s just being more disciplined with your keys. We work the dog out of tackling every day, either in the mornings or during the afternoon, and it’s starting to improve. A lot of it has to do with getting stronger in the offseason, but as far as our technique and the way we like to see them tackle, that’s improving.”
For the season, the Dragons are producing 26 points and 315.5 yards — 213.5 on the ground and 102 through the air — per game, with seven turnovers. Seth Anderson leads the ground game with 219 yards and four touchdowns, followed by Ethan Sanchez with 145 yards and two scores and Wilson with 57 yards. Wilson has connected on 15 of 32 passes for 195 with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Anderson also leads all receivers with seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown followed by Wesley Mitchell with five grabs for 30 yards and a trip to the end zone. Evan Belez is the only other receiver with multiple catches, two for 18 yards.
Defensively, Bangs is surrendering 64.5 points and 671.5 yards — 329.5 rushing and 342 passing — per outing, with a pair of takeaways. Leading tacklers include Sanchez (24.5 tackles, 1 for loss), Riley Taylor (23 tackles, 1 for loss), Mitchell (11 tackles, one interception), Kolt Bradley (10 tackles), Anderson (8.5 tackles, one interception) and Belez (eight tackles).
Winters, meanwhile, enters the contest allowing an average of 7 points per game with one shutout. Offensively, the Blizzards are generating 28 points per game.
In the season-opening win over Goldthwaite, Nick Brown rushed for 136 yards with touchdowns of 31 and 20 yards. Quarterback Jovan Young chipped in 96 yards and was 1 of 3 passing with an 11-yard completion to Charles Childress. Sema’Jae Jackson chipped in 57 yards on the ground with a score and Slater Lindley also rushed for 13 yards.
The Blizzards finished with 313 total yards, while allowing Goldthwaite 249 — and only 33 rushing.
Last week against Eldorado, Young sparked the offense with 153 yards rushing and touchdown carries of 62 and 39 yards as the Blizzards ran for 318 of their 328 total yards.
Defensively, Winters gave up just 196 yards with three tackles for loss, one sack and one interception.
“What concerns me the most is up front, them blowing us off the ball,” Maxfield said. “Really our T-N-T does a good job keeping their pads down, attacking their keys, but they’re really going to be challenged this week. Winters has been doing it a while, and they’re not going to stop what they do. We’re going to have to be ready in the fourth quarter to still ante up. We’ll get some stops, but we have to be consistent with that.”
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Bangs is a 34-point underdog. However, Maxfield anticipates great improvement out of the Dragons this week, more so than what was witnessed this past Friday.
“Usually they say the most improvement is from Week 1 to Week 2,” Maxfield said. “But I think with our team, as young as we are and the newness of everything, I think this team could see more improvement from Week 2 to Week 3 than a normal season, so we’re looking forward to that.”